My Iron Brother

….an inspiring story of what can be done!


At the risk of giving more details than what he is ready to share publicly, I will tell you an inspiring story that has been on my mind lately, involving my younger brother, Diego.


A little over a year ago, my brother came to Ottawa to look for new business opportunities as he was considering moving back here from Peru. During his stay with us, he followed our routine and lifestyle. Coming from a busy household of a wife and two young children, he felt the differences between our homes were significant. We would often find ourselves talking about what those differences were. An obvious difference was the amount of time my husband and I had on our hands for self-care compared to that of him and his wife. We noticed that we could mutually benefit from each other’s lifestyles and so we began to intentionally incorporate some of each other’s habits.


While he was here, he got us into the habit of waking up earlier as we used to sleep in a bit longer than parents usually do.  We quickly realized the many things that can be completed early in the morning. On the other hand, we got him into the habit of exercising outdoors and mixing his drinks with carbonated water instead of soda.


One morning, he decided to follow my husband to his local gym  (Capital Strength) where they do a type of functional movement class. Previously, he had attempted to go out running with me outdoors, but he could hardly finish the 3km loop. He admitted to himself, that after he moved to Peru and became a father, he had many excuses to not make time to exercise and had gotten into the habit of having a drink after work to “relax”, not to mention his cigaret-smoking habit. Consequently, a few years doing that, had lead him to being out of shape and overweight.


After this visit to the gym, he told us how out of shape he had felt. In fact his exact words were: “I thought I was going to die”. I believe that day he had one of those “a ha moments”, because he told us how he was going to begin exercising regularly and that he was going to quit smoking. He had quit smoking before so, this did not seem like a particularly impressive initiative and quite honestly, I thought it was an emotional decision and figured he was going to forget about this promise in a few days. I have to tell you, I’ve never been so happy to be wrong. He actually never picked up a cigaret again.


The thing I have always admired about Diego is his determination, discipline and incredible resiliency. All those qualities served him well for this new goal of his. He decided that the example he wanted his children to have was not that of a unhealthy lifestyle but rather, one of healthy challenges and positive habits. So he returned to his family with a new mindset. He visited a local dietitian and got himself into a healthier diet. He bought a bicycle, running shoes and a membership at a local pool where he could swim regularly. 


He first signed up for a 5 km race, trained for it and completed it only a few months after his determination to do things differently. Then he signed up for a 10km race, and with the same strategy, he ran it. He had some challenges along the way, as he has flat feet and an old knee injury, however; with proper medical care, he continued with his goal. During this time, one of our cousins raced and got placed 1st in an Iron Man race. So, Diego thought to himself, “if Juan can do it, so can I” and sure enough, not long after he got himself registered for the Half Iron Man in Lima. If you do not know what an Iron Man race is, it is a triathlon of crazy long distances, where athletes in incredible shape race for the fun of it! (You read that right, they do it for fun!!!)


When Diego called us to let us know about his new goal, my husband and I were so surprised and somewhat concerned, as we knew how out of shape he had been not long ago. Yet, we encouraged him to try it. Diego tells me the training wasn’t easy. He had to dedicate several hours a day to his physical goal, sacrificing time away from his family and three businesses. He was up at 5:00 am some days, and in the pool at 7:00 pm some nights. He organized his life around his new habits and he began to feel very passionate about it. Along the way, he found some training buddies who were inspired by his determination. However, also along the way he saw those buddies stop their commitment and give up. While this could have served him as an excuse to quit, he did not.


In April of 2018, Diego who had been overweight, out of shape and somewhat discouraged from exercising, completed a half Iron Man race. Throughout this journey, he lost 60 pounds, a habit of smoking and drinking and he gained new swimming techniques, three new hobbies and the satisfaction of saying “I can do it, I will do it, I did it”. There is nothing extraordinary about Diego. He is a regular dad, husband and business owner. He simply decided to love himself enough to dedicate some time to his health and fitness. I am personally so inspired by my “Iron brother” that I thought the best way to honour him was to share his story, something that he has not done because he is humble and uninterested in getting cheers for what he thinks is the right thing to do. I have always been his cheerleader and I think his story can help YOU, get inspired to make time for that one goal you’ve been meaning to tackle, but haven’t. Whether your goal is for your career, your love life, your health, if you apply Diego’s secret ingredients, of determination, strategy, discipline and resiliency, you can do it too.

May this story of hard work inspire you as much as it has inspired me. And may you be the "Diego" of your own family. A source of admiration, good example and self-love.